There were some things I LOVED in this book, but I also have a couple of things holding me back from giving it a 4.
Once I reached the end of the book, I was loving it. I loved the characters, how far they had come, and basically the entire arc the story took. I skimmed a couple of reviews directly after finishing, and I remembered all the grievances I had at the beginning of the novel and had to knock it down half a star.
Things I loved:
How passionate everyone is about the things they love
Dissecting of high school culture and tropes
the very ~cool~ parents and authority figures/mentors
Things that could have been better:
The timeline and switch in perspective, especially at the front half of the book
Some weird statements by a few of the characters that were unnecessary/didn’t add anything to the book
I kind of hated Will at the beginning of the book. The way he was talking about people and his weird affliction for 20s slang really rubbed me the wrong way. Only until I realized he wasn’t actually an asshole, did I come around to liking his character. (view spoiler)Sometimes it is hard for me to distinguish between bad characters or just stupid teen behavior, and I think in his case he just is a dumb teen sometimes.
I was a big fan of Mattie all the way from the start to the finish. I especially loved her relationship with Miyu. It was so heartwarming, and they really both helped each other grow in their own way. Ugh this book is going to make me want to get into lock picking. It’s just so freaking COOL! I didn’t think I would nerd out over escapology as much as I am, but I am now a total fan. I loved how passionate she was about it and how she let it change her life. Most of her performances had me freaking the fuck out. I was so tense, but also SO ENGAGED with the story. My heart was beating so fast every freaking time. Those are my favorite scenes I read in the whole book. I wish I could find a speakeasy with regular hecklers that will buy me free drinks every Friday night.
I was completely confused about what the hell was going on with the timeline in the beginning. It smoothed out at the second half of the book because it was more linear (if I’m remembering correctly), but the front half was jumping around like nobody’s business. Don’t get me wrong, I love a complicated timeline if it serves a purpose. I don’t really know what we gained by being confused about when certain events took place? This is usually a better fit for a mystery or thriller novel, but in this case, I really could have used some dates or clues as to when certain chapters were happening.
One of the reviews I read pointed out Mattie turning down joining the gay-straight alliance at her school because she’s “apolitical” which seemed really weird and unnecessary? I don’t really understand 1. what it has to do with being apolitical and 2. why it was included in the book at all? It just really stood out to me as being something that did not need to be there.
I really wish I could give this a higher score because there were SO MANY things I loved about it, but there were a couple of shortcomings that I really can’t ignore if I’m going to give it an honest review.